A Tale of Two Cities Heading In Opposite Directions
Welcome all, thank you for joining us at Inside the ACC for my favorite time of the year, the NBA’s silly season. Two months of pure joy. Something to look forward to every day, and this weekend typifies the excitement with eight games spread out over two days. I will be examining the NBA playoffs through the ACC players on each playoff roster. We will post these in order throughout Day 1 and Day 2 of the playoffs. Please check back in periodically throughout and check out all 8 of them. Comment and tell me all the reasons I am wrong.
# 8 Washington Wizards (43-39) @ #3 Toronto Raptors (59-23) Game 1, 5:30 Saturday
Teams split season series 2-2. Each took a home and road win.
Washington, D.C. is home to many disorganized institutions at the moment and the Wizards are no exception. They played miserably during the final quarter of the season, and fans were asking each other quite candidly if the team played better with John Wall sidelined by injury.
The answer seems to be both yes AND no. Or maybe the Wizards playing below expectations serves as the institution itself. Similar to the Caps finding a way to play Pittsburgh and lose in 7, or the Redskins being the Redskins under the stewardship of Napoleon. We won’t get into politics, and many of the problems we have today pre-existed the current administration. Trump isn’t making things better though with his collection of hats and silk pigs. DC Institutions that don’t suck? Stick to the Smithsonian.
After the Jodie Meeks suspension news broke, I was astonished to find that they had picked up rusty Ty Lawson (UNC) for the postseason. Ty hasn’t been good since 2015. He has had run-ins with the law for DUI, and found no takers until the Wizards got desperate. It’s apparent the Wizards have not learned from their miscues. They signed a slightly larger version of Lawson in Brandon Jennings, and like Jennings last year, he will be using this playoff burn as a self-marketing ploy, a de facto job interview. He will not play to win, he will play to pad stats. And it’s just as well, because that is what this Wizards team is all about.
It’s a selfish group, and even Wall’s assists come from his drive to prove he is a distributor. If they didn’t keep track of assists, you wonder if John would pass the ball. We know Beal certainly wouldn’t. And as for Jodie Meeks, if that’s you on PEDs, from what we saw this year, then you are better off at home.
The Wizards led the league in team meetings this year, and they resembled Labor/Union talks with no satisfactory result in sight. Change for the sake of change is necessary in DC, and then you look down the bench and see Ian Mahinmi taking up space, fumbling cups of water. For $16M and with only two years to go after this year. What a bargain! Change is not possible without trading one of Porter, Beal, or Wall.
Chris McCullough (Syracuse) also “plays” for the Wizards. He played only 19 games this year, averaging minuscule minutes. He remains a project the Wizards stash in the G League. Upside remains the same as previously stated. But what else would the people who drafted him say?
UVA is represented by Mike Scott, who is currently in concussion protocol. He will miss Game 1, maybe not to return until Game 3. This will allow for Jason Smith, who performed very well as a back of the rotation big just last year. This year he racked up a ton of DNP-CD, playing in just 33 contests. He is a spark when he’s healthy and his teammates get him the ball for quick flurries of points. He will have to play now because Scott is compromised. Scott will score you more points than Smith, but his defense is atrocious as an undersized PF who can’t get off the pindown screens to guard the corner 3, and his paint defense is non-existent, with almost zero rim protection.
I have good news and I have bad news, Wizards fans. Dispensing with the good first, the Wizards are almost as good on the road as they are at home. And now for the bad, they are only 23-18 at home. Two games worse than any other playoff team besides New Orleans, who inexplicably lets teams off the hook when they should have the French Quarter Flu (a variation of the South Beach Flu).
The fact remains that the Wizards can dazzle and then implode from one minute to the next. This frustrating inconsistency lays at the feet of coach Scottie Brooks and the team leadership. Watching Brooks make faces that’ll stay that way (as Mom used to say) during the epic collapse against Cleveland last week was telling. The man has no answers to this puzzle.
The Raptors take Game 1 over the Wizards 114-106. It's the first time in franchise history Toronto has won its opening game of the playoffs.
The Raptors set a postseason single-game franchise record for 3-pointers with 16, including a game-high 4 by C.J. Miles. pic.twitter.com/goXMJ5Boak
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 15, 2018
All Wizards fans can hope for is that Toronto extends it’s dubious streak of 10 Game 1 losses, including six at home. The Wizards swept Toronto just two years ago in the first round, and many of the same players remain on their respective rosters. Toronto has re-shaped it’s bench, and is being lauded for those players development and cohesion. The Raptors tied Houston for the NBA’s best home mark, and their crowd senses that this is their year, so they will be out for blood against a team that can’t stand playing with each other.
The Raptors don’t have any ACC players in their rotations, but did pick up NC State’s Lorenzo Brown for the playoff run, and he will backup the backup PG. Also, Malachi Richardson (Syracuse) is on the roster, but played just three games this year.
Prediction: Raptors in 5, winning 4 straight after losing the opener. Scottie Brooks gets fired, and so does Ernie Grunfeld finally.